Since Cox Enterprises Chairman and CEO Jim Kennedy announced "Cox Conserves" in 2007, the company's 80,000 employees nationwide stepped up to meet his challenge. The goal: reduce the company's energy consumption by 20 percent by 2017. Locally, Cox Communications' New England operations are well on their way to exceeding company and industry standards for this ambitious program.
Cox Conserves is a national corporate program that includes the company's six major subsidiaries. The program enables and encourages Cox's 80,000 employees and families to engage in eco-friendly practices that reduce energy use and promote sustainability. Since 2000, Cox Enterprises has reduced its energy consumption by 10 percent while growing at nearly 12 percent a year. Building on this success, the goal of Cox Conserves is to reduce its energy consumption by an additional 20 percent by 2017.
In New England, Cox has focused its efforts on the environmentally-friendly three Rs:
- Reduce the amount and toxicity of trash discarded as well as the amount of energy consumed;
- Reuse containers and products;
- Recycle as much as possible, including buying products with recycled content.
"D.E.M. is always pleased to hear of an environmental success story. Cox's environmental initiatives cover more than just recycling, as they also involve waste reduction and energy conservation," said Alyson Silva, commercial recycling coordinator for The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).
Reducing energy consumption is a key part of the Cox Conserves strategy. Several enhancements to the company's facilities have been implemented, including:
- The transition of its fleet to hybrid vehicles, which is expected to save the company 400 gallons of gas per vehicle per year.
- A new advanced lighting and HVAC control system automatically shuts down portions of its headquarters at 9 JP Murphy Highway in West Warwick during off-hours. This equipment is expected to yield a 30 percent energy savings.
- An advanced centralized power management system for its 1,500 desktop computers is currently being implemented. This system will save $25 per PC per year when fully deployed.
- New lighting systems in its call center will reduce energy consumption by 30 percent and dramatically improve the quality of lighting in the building.
- An energy-efficient boiler system, also in the call center, will reduce energy consumption by 40 percent and at the same time provide an additional level of fault tolerance during the critical cold winter months. The old boiler was the size of a large van; the new ones are the size of small ATM machines.
A comprehensive and full-circle recycling and composting program is the most noteworthy aspect of Cox's efforts. Implemented earlier this month, the program recycles or composts all paper, cardboard, plastics and food products that pass through its cafeteria, which serves more than 625 meals per day. The plates, trays and cups used in its cafeteria are made of 100 percent recycled fiber and are fully compostable.
All waste products are divided into three categories: trash, recycling and composting. Food waste and the biodegradable container products are sent to a compost facility and then to Newland Farm in nearby Norton, Massachusetts. Newland Farm's organic compost will then be used by Cox on the grounds of its West Warwick headquarters.
The company expects its first shipment of its own compost in July 2008.
Launched at the same time as its composting program, Cox's aggressive recycling program exceeds Cox Enterprises' standards and the State of Rhode Island's mandates for corporate recycling programs. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management's (DEM) Office of Waste Management requires corporations to recycle plastic containers marked with 1s and 2s. Working with PF Recycling and Collection of New Bedford, Massachusetts, Cox's recycling program also includes plastics 3 through 7.
The company also has implemented a desk-side recycling program at its West Warwick location, where nearly 800 of its 1600 employees are based. It expects to expand the program to its other six satellite office locations throughout Rhode Island in July 2008.
Already, Cox's employees are showing strong levels of participation in its programs as well as high awareness of the need to protect the environment. A March 2007 survey of its employees showed that 95 percent will participate in the company program. Already, 82 percent recycle at home.
"I am confident that, through these efforts, Cox will exceed our goals for reducing our carbon footprint and set a new standard for corporate commitment to the environment in the State of Rhode Island," said Brad Shipp, vice president of IT and facilities for Cox Communications' New England Operations. "It is no surprise that our employees are engaged in this ambitious program to be the best we can for our customers. Ultimately, Cox Conserves is yet another example of our position as the most trusted provider of communication and entertainment services in America. I also want to applaud the Cox Conserves team that has led the implementation efforts of this program. Their vision, commitment and focus will help us far exceed the ambitious goals originally set out for this program."
More information on Cox's environmental initiatives and tips on how anyone can become more environmentally friendly can be found at http://www.coxconserves.com/.